An artist with a penchant for paper, Tahiti Pehrson spent 15 hours a day for 3.5 months to create his fantastic installation of Kaleidoscopic systems for his site-specific mediations in the lobbies of Viacom in NYC. I have visited many of their installations and this one is no less enchanting as the rest. Made out of durable cotton rag and using a lot of X-ACTO blades, (I failed to ask Tahiti how many blades he went through) Tahiti created a very wonderful way forward and backward representing the course of life. The entrance is the exit and the exit is the entrance.
He came up with these cyclical routes after he learned of his father’s descent into cancer and the possibility of his incumbent death after his daughters 10th birthday, while she ascends into a life he descends into death and there Tahiti stands in the middle as the observer and the documentarian of the journey. These pure white shapes are excellently adapted to his view, reminding us all of our mortality. Though the idea of mortality might be frightening Tahiti allays anxiety and creates a manifestation of the simultaneity of existence.
Pretty wild stuff for an office building, but since Viacom deals with the alternative universe of all things media, it makes absolute sense and furthermore it stands as a universal posit which we all seem to hook into. I suppose it as a sobering a notion as it is a beautiful representation of the theme.
While on one end of the lobby the pieces appear as mural-esque panels, testaments to his vision, the other entrance hosts a kind of launching pad or private space for a person to enter and look through the enclosed environment into the open one of the lobby. This feels a little bit like a priest’s confessional or a finite space meant for contemplation where the world continues outside and time stops to observe and feel in quiet contemplation. According to the artist, he was inspired by Italian painters and images of religious icons in boxes so to speak, like the Madonna. For me, I see a bit of Byzantium art forms, Islamic flavors in these architectural choices.
Tahiti tells me that the pattern type is called, Epitrochrid, or a circle going around another circle. It is quite mathematical though it doesn’t seem to require the prowess of math as much as observation and skill to develop the work. Repetition of patterns is the device by which he creates his hypnotic installation starting with diamonds and triangle and shapes.
According to Tahiti, “Eptrochiod and Epicycloids are the mechanics behind a system called Guilloche. Many are going to go to the spirograph but these patterns go back to Greek and Roman architecture however they are most commonly known as the patterns on currencies throughout the world, as well as a technique to jewel metal surfaces as in watch-faces and in Faberge Eggs. It has been used as practical alchemy by turning a cheaper material into something that refracts light like a jewel or precious cut stone. Wikipedia
Tahiti also used other used Moire patterns “which are a secondary pattern or visual distortion, which comes about when similarly parallel lines are view for a distance. The most common example is when you are driving on the freeway and you drive under an overpass with a chain-link arch and you see this strobing kind of grid creating that movement. You can see this in a tower triptych and it reads very similarly to the pattern I’m working on adding to the repetition factor.”
Tahiti goes on to explain the Fibonacci series, “which a naturally occurring pattern is in numbers that shows something about the design sense of nature. By adding each consecutive number to the one before it. 1=1+2 1+2=3 2+3=5 and so on. This gives you the sequence 1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34…….
This is a pattern that creates a scaled graduation from small to large ad-infinitum. The towers I used to create the flower shape in the center (it is skewed a bit from enlarging it in tiles) 1-inch circles, next 2 in, 3 in, 5 in, so it creates this graduating flowers pattern, it’s more generally seen as the spiral in concentrically graduating sequence.”
All this being said the work requires extreme concentration and physical involvement. Tahiti cut himself once or twice but after that, the next 11,000 or so scores were a breeze. After going back to look at the work again, I am impressed by the tranquility and beauty of Tahiti Pehrson’s installation. He has truly executed the manifestation of the cycles of life successfully.
Words: Isa Freeling © Artlyst 2016 Image: Brooke Alexander